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WindStar Wildlife Institute
depend upon your time, budget,the size of your site, andattitude towards herbicides.
Method One involves early
site preparation three weeksprior to sowing. Tilling is
followed by repeated cultivationduring that time period, thuseliminating the early annualweeds.
Method Two starts six weeks
ahead of sowing. During the
first three weeks after tilling,weeds are allowed to grow (evenencouraged with watering) andthen they are treated with aherbicide such as Roundup. Theweeds will die during the nextthree weeks and can be rakedaway. This also gives thechemicals time to wash out of the soil. This method is good if you have persistent perennialweeds to remove.
Method Three takes more
planning, but requires nochemicals. Till in the late
summer or early fall of the yearbefore you want to plant. Thesoil can be left fallow, or you canplant a cover crop such asbuckwheat or annual rye grass.This will hold the soil in place,add beneficial organic matter tothe site, and help to crowd outgerminating weeds. In the spring,lightly cultivate to loosen thesoil and turn under the covercrop just before planting.
Once your ground is bare andloosened and you are ready tosow, there are some tricks thatwill make the process easier andmore successful. Choose anearly windless day, andseparate the seed into roughlytwo equal parts. Put the firsthalf in a container and addabout 10 parts of light sand orvermiculite.This will help you to spreadthe seed evenly, and also makeit easy to see where you
vealready been. Sow this half overthe whole area to be seeded,either by hand or using a hand-crank cyclone seeder.You may want to sow up to 2or 3 times the supplier
srecommended minimum rates,but don
t go higher than thatbecause it will inhibit goodgrowth.Mix the second half of yourseed in the same way, andspread it over the whole areaalso, making sure that you hitany bare spots that weremissed the first time. Don
trake or cover the seed with soil.Instead, press it into theground using a lawn roller orpiece of plywood that you walk on.If compressing isn
t possible,it is better to do nothing thanto rake or cover the seed.
All seeds, even wildflowers,need moisture and warmth togerminate. Some will sprout in aweek, while others take months.Most mixes will include bothannual and perennial flowers.The annuals germinate quicklyand grow fast. They bloom earlyand heavily, set seed, and arekilled by frost. They may reseed,but you will probably want toadd more seed every couple of years to insure a goodperformance.Perennials come back everyyear from the same roots. Theygrow more slowly and may notflower until the second year.They get larger and strongereach year, forming clumps thatmay die back in winter butreturn the next spring. A thirdtype of plant, biennials, formleaves the first year, bloom thesecond, and are killed by frostafter blooming. They aregenerally considered perennialperformers, however, because of their heavy seed production.
Fertilizer is not recommended.Wildflowers grow best in soilswith low fertility, where nitrogenlevels are low. Using fertilizer willalso promote weed growth.Water to get the meadowestablished, and then only intimes of stress. Overwateringyields more leaves and fewerflowers.You might have to pull upsome weeds or shrubs thatintrude on your meadow, butoften it is easiest to just letthem go and become part of your natural landscape. Once ayear, at the end of the growing